Filmmakers in Focus - Deadbeat, Manny and Wicker Kittens

Written by Jim Kolmar | March 1, 2014

Filmmakers! In Focus! Troy Miller, Ryan Moore and Amy Elliot

This year saw the introduction of two brand new elements to SXSW Film - the Episodic section for innovative Television work, and, as part of the SXSW convergence programming, SXsports.

Both are represented in today's Filmmakers in Focus. Deadbeat is a hilarious new supernatural comedy from Hulu and Lionsgate Television; we spoke to TV veteran and Deadbeat director Troy Miller.

Over at SXsports, we're showing a much anticipated Manny, documentary on the beloved Manny Pacquiao, ten times world champion boxer. Filmmaker Ryan Moore gives us the gritty lowdown.

A rather quieter pasttime, jigsaw puzzles are the focus in Amy Elliot's delightful Wicker Kittens. If you're questioning whether or not this consitutes a sport, just watch how the competitive puzzlers throw down in Elliot's film. You'll be instantly convinced.

Stay tuned to Filmmakers in Focus on this archive page, and sign up for your badge to attend SXSW here.

Troy Miller on DEADbeat

Photo courtesy Hulu/Nicole Rivelli

Tell us a little about your film.

Deadbeat is a 10-episode half-hour supernatural comedy I directed and produced (similar fashion as my past projects, Flight of the Conchords, Arrested Development”). Shot like a 5 hour movie (cross-boarding). It's an alternative comedy in tone and the stars Tyler Labine (Reaper) as Kevin Pacalioglu, a hapless but gifted medium who will go to any lengths to help New York’s ghosts settle their unfinished business. Brandon T. Jackson (Tropic Thunder) plays his best (and only) friend, Roofie. Cat Deeley (So You Think You Can Dance) stars as Camomile White, a glamorous celebrity medium who is Pacalioglu’s rival and nemesis. A rather low budget endeavor, that was shot entirely on the streets of New York, I also served as one of the principle camera operators, to further secure the opinionated cinematic style I wanted to bring to the project.

Have you been to SXSW before? Any tips?

Yes! With my past shows (Mr. Show, FOTC, Arrested Development etc), looking forward to good indie films, TV exclusives and acoustic music.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

I move fast - I cut quick - I don't look back...

Ryan Moore on Manny

Photo courtesy Nathaniel James

Tell us a little about your film.

Manny is about one of the most exciting, compassionate boxers to ever enter the ring since Muhammad Ali. With his small size and surprisingly lighthearted demeanor, he's defied the norm by fighting much bigger opponents, breaking world records along the way. There is no other boxer in the history of the sport that has been able to achieve what Manny has, and he is the true definition of a Cinderella-Man. From growing up in the slums of the Philippines fighting to feed his family, to now carrying the hopes of a 100 million people on his back as he enters the ring, Manny has become a symbol of hope to people all over the world.

Why did you start making films?

I started making films when I was a kid. At first my dad and I created stop-motion animation videos with my Voltron toys and then I began making short films in grade school. I made my first short film "Dragon Slayer" when I was 12 years old and I casted my classmates in it. We edited it together using multiple VHS tape recorders, and my dad and I did the special effects (I guess you could call them that), and my dad even performed the original score. At that moment I knew I loved making movies.

Have you been to SXSW before? Any tips?

Nope - never been but can't wait! I'm all about live music. I love that moment when you hear a song by a band you've never heard of, and you're completely blown away. That's what I'm excited for - many of those moments as I go from show to show at SXSW

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

Random fact #1: When I lived in Manila as a teenager, we had a pet monkey. His name was Abu (I was a fan of the animated movie Aladdin). He used to wear a miniature "SHAQ" Lakers basketball jersey which was ironic of course considering his small size. After our odd-ball adventures together, during the ride home, Abu liked to listen to classical music and fall asleep.

Random Fact #2: Every morning when I wake up, I jump in the shower and take a few minutes to replay the dream I had the night before in my head. I can oftentimes remember the greatest details about my dreams: who were in them, plot lines, the emotion/feeling, camera angles, sounds, etc. Sometimes in my dreams, I even work out answers to dilemmas that occurred during the day before. Tell me about it, as I read this I'm surprised to have a girlfriend right now."

Amy Elliott on Wicker Kittens

Photo courtesy Wicker Kittens

Tell us a little about your film.

Wicker Kittens is a documentary about competitive jigsaw puzzling. The film follows four teams as they prepare for and compete at the largest contest in the country.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

I started my career as a photographer and film was a natural outgrowth. I’m endlessly fascinated by what people do to bring importance to their lives and that’s what my work is about.

Have you been to SXSW before? Any tips?

Yes – I was at SXSW in 2010 with the film World’s Largest. I don’t feel especially qualified to give out tips, but I do advise visitors to Austin not to drink Lone Star “ironically”. It may be brewed by Pabst, but it’s really pretty good.

Why did you start making films?

I have cases of canned water stored at home in preparation for the coming apocalypse (whatever form that may take). Also - I own the best dog in the world. I feel sorry for other dog owners.